The words fun, free and governance are not often combined in service-oriented architecture (SOA) discussions, but they are when executives of WSO2 Inc. talk about the REST-based WSO2 Registry they are releasing today.
The open source SOA vendor is combining traditional governance with Web 2.0 collaboration tools like wikis in the registry/repository product that is available for free download, explained Glen Daniels, director of Java platforms and product lead for the WSO2 Registry. The product is designed to bridge the gap between business users and IT professionals by building a collaborative community that promotes both policy enforcement and the advantages of Web services reuse, he said.
"We think as people get excited about using the registry because it's fun, it provides them with a better way to connect their components together with other people in the business," Daniels said.
For developers, the WSO2 Registry provides a structured registry and repository. For business users it offers a Web-based interface into a Web 2.0 community that enables users to store, catalog, index and manage enterprise metadata in what WSO2 calls "a simple, scalable and easy-to-use wiki-style model."
In this first release, the more hardcore registry/repository features the developers will use is still a work in progress, said Paul Fremantle, co-founder and vice president of WSO2 Inc., but he said there are some core functionalities within the first release that developers can use and more tools will be added in the next release.
"Although governance is an area that we still need to do a lot of work on, there are some core concepts that we built into the registry that are very useful," he said. One such feature is tracking dependencies between WSDLs and schemas, he said. "If you have a WSDL that refers to a schema, then we track those dependencies both ways. If someone modifies the schema, we can notify the WSDL that there's a change and the WSDL might be affected."
Elaborating on this tracking functionality, Daniels said, "The way that works involves some deep understanding of structure of certain content types that you're going to put into the registry. When someone uploads a WSDL for instance, that WSDL might have references to external schemas or other WSDLs that we want to remember that it's now dependent on. So we have an extensible plug-point where you can put in handlers for particular media types. If you have some structured data that's a custom format for your business, you can plug in a handler, so a custom set of actions is taken when that media type is uploaded to the registry. That's a very powerful feature that we think will get a lot of use."
Daniels defends the concept that a robust online community can be built around SOA governance, as being in keeping with the business goal of service-orientation.
"The way to get the benefits you want out of SOA is to get a community around it," he said. "Anytime you read the analysts or practitioners, they're going to say the real way to do SOA is not by buying any product, but by getting your business and your people to do the right things in terms of communicating to get the reuse. So the Web 2.0 features that we've layered on we think has created a new way for people to get those benefits."
Here WSO2 is trying to balance the Web 2.0 features that allow business users to comment on the value of a particular Web service for a departmental application, and the IT requirements for governing those services.
"Of course you also want to make sure that your business runs following all the policies that you work under at a corporate level and an IT level," Daniels said. "You want to make sure that the kind of governance that your management and IT department want is possible with these tools."
The wiki functionality for the registry is designed not only to get the business users involved in promoting re-use, Daniels said, it provides a way for the IT department to connect with the business users to make sure policies remain in effect.
"There's this emergent effect of providing a point where your IT department can do governance as well," he said. "They can engage and enforce policies and make sure that when people are uploading WSDLs, they match the WS-I profile."
Daniels said the WSO2 Registry is fully open source and released under Apache License 2.0, and is available for free download. As an open source company, the WSO2 business model is based on making money through its support of the product, he said.